Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Past Performance is not Predictive of Future Results

I get it. I really do.

You hear people like me talking about how good we’re going to be this season, how #TITTY and we’re going to Indy. I know you look at me and think “You poor, stupid tub of gravy. Yeah, the schedule looks good; yeah, we looked amazing at the end of last season. Doesn’t matter. I’ve gone into the season with high hopes before. I’ve died a thousand deaths. Never again. Never again.”

It's natural. We’ve all been hurt before. And every year, as July passes to August, you get that flutter in your heart that’s your subconscious expressing joy for the coming season (or atrial fibrillation – see a doctor). And with that flutter comes the hope. Every team is 0 – 0. That schedule is pretty easy. Squeeee we might do it this year!

And then you mash that hope like it was a bug made of rabies.

It hurts to lose. It hurts to lose more when you thought we would be good. That’s a psychic, existential pain where you don’t make eye contact with anyone for two weeks and seek comfort in the warm embrace of YouTube flat earther videos. As people generally like to minimize the hurt they experience and, since we seemingly always lose, they key to avoiding a crisis of self and denying centuries of well-founded science is to just assume we’re going to blow it at some point. Always have. Will again.

I hear you. You’re understood.

But it is hard to do it this season, team. So hard, I reckon, that there’s no real basis for your belief. As you look at the schedule, you don’t see a 100%, sure-fire loss. I know it. You know it. Let’s just accept it. Our offensive talent is as good as it’s been in my lifetime. TyJo, Bateman, Rodney Smith and the O-Line; c’mon, that’s the good shit right there. Defensively, yeah, some questions at DT; but we’ve recruited the position better than ever before and have some real dudes at linebacker and cornerback. They’ll at least be able to hold serve while our offense puts up 30 points per game. Front to back, this is a really good football team. That’s a fact even in a post-truth world.

Also, you know the past doesn’t really exist, right? I mean, it does, insofar as we remember it; but it only affects today because we let it. There is no magic hand of the past that nudged Charlie Strong’s resume off of Joel Maturi’s desk so he offered the job to Time Brewster. Michigan 2003? No bearing on how the season goes. Wisconsin 2005? Rashod Bateman was, like, four years old.

The trepidation we have going into the season is a function of the baggage we’ve been carrying around for decades. But we’ve been carrying it because we’ve chosen to carry it. The association of “Gopher football” and “existential pain beyond comprehension” isn’t real. Our brains may have mapped that out for us in the same way we’re programmed not to stick our heads in an oven or play with scorpions. But ovens will melt your face and scorpions are, like, GAH; Gopher football is just a thing that made us feel sucky sometimes.

Assuming the worst so that any surprises are good ones is a comforting sheath that protects us. That and a mountain of Blatz is what got me through the penury of the Brewster era. But what happened in the past is exactly that – the past. The players, the coaches, the national media, hell, even some of the local media, think we’re going to be pretty good this year. It’s August. Every team is 0 – 0. The schedule is pretty easy. Let that rabies bug of hope live a little bit longer.